|Deep in South Texas, medical science has evolved much the same as it has all across the world. Science, for the most part, has replaced ancient lore and folk medicine, and it's easy to find all the modern conveniences and services you would expect to find in a modern world, like hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices on just about every corner of every city and town in the region.
But in the heart of the fertile Rio Grande Valley of Texas there are still hidden secrets growing; ancient healing herbs that alternative practitioners turn into powerful natural remedies. Indigenous people did not have and were slow to embrace western medicine, so relying on mother nature's bounty and the wisdom of shamans and curanderos (white witches, healers) was their only defense against illness and disease.
In truth, much of our modern pharmaceuticals were birthed from these very same herbs, plants and trees. Some say that down through the years modern medicine has lost touch with the roots of the natural healing arts. But a place known as Rancho Lomitas strives to awaken a new understanding of these ancient healing plants and their many benefits and remedies.
Rancho Lomitas is a 177 acre native vegetation and wildlife refuge owned by Benito & Toni Trevino, who have been educating locals and visitors about the healing properties of natural herbs for over 20 years.
It is a passion for them to pass on the knowledge given to them by their ancestors. For them it is not only about giving people the power to heal themselves, but it's also about sharing their heritage as natural healers.
Visitors to Rancho Lomitas will be mesmerized by the colorful historical tales of Spanish explorers and their encounters with local Indians and their healing arts, all while partaking in field tours of the wildlife and plants growing there, culminating in a bounteous buffet of food and drink created from these amazing healing plants. Imagine cooling off with a red sorbet made from prickly pear cactus, or enjoying sweet mesquite cookies with your Texas ebony-bean coffee.
But where did this knowledge come from? From humble beginnings, Benito was one of 12 brothers and sisters growing up in extreme poverty. However, his grandmother, mother and aunt all possessed knowledge more valuable than money, the wisdom of healing herbs.
Despite their poverty, the Trevino family would enjoy health and life through this wisdom and pass it on to the youngest generation of the Trevino family. Benito says he recalls being sent out to the river (Rio Grande) by his maternal elders to pick certain plants for remedies. He says he has never forgotten the impact these special and natural plants had on his family.
Benito went on to earn a degree in botany, with a minor in chemistry, from the University of Texas. After an assignment in Alaska, he returned to the Rio Grande Valley with his wife to pursue their dream of building a natural herb ranch business.
Rancho Lomitas has grown to be a noted refuge among fellow scientists and educators as well as a successful enterprise for the Rio Grande Valley community. Certainly Trevino's maternal elders would be proud.
In addition to the herbs the Trevinos cultivate at the ranch, Rancho Lomitas is also home to many species of butterflies, birds and animals, and the ranch participates each year in two of the valley's biggest nature festivals, The Texas Butterfly Festival and the Texas Tropics Nature Festival. During these events special tours of the ranch are offered. Private tours can also be arranged by contacting the Ranch at 956-486-2576 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the ranch, check out their Web site.
If you are looking to immerse yourself in the healing arts and environment, Rancho Lomitas offers primitive camping for $6 per day. They also have RV camping with full hookups. RV camping fees: $10 day/$50 week/$160 month, a great deal for a truly unique experience in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Located 7 miles northwest of Rio Grande City, Rancho Lomitas is situated in the upper Rio Grande Valley. The directions to the ranch are a little tricky but well worth the effort.
From McAllen, take US 83 and drive west 34 miles to Rio Grande City. Take FM 755 north for 8 miles, and turn left at the green sign that says "La Sagunda Road." Continue straight (do not turn right at the fork) to La Sagunada North Road. The road will be asphalt at first before turning into a gravel roadway. Continue for 5.5 miles, and turn left at the T, then continue 1/10 of a mile. Turn right, and continue about half a mile to the ranch gate with the brown and yellow Rancho Lomitas sign.
Needless to say, because of the location of the ranch it is best to have all your supplies with you before making the trek out to the ranch and let them know ahead of time that you are coming.
Enjoy this truly amazing adventure and learn the history and medicinal heritage of the Rio Grande Valley. Who knows, you may rescue yourself from your next cold or headache with your new found knowledge!